“Are you okay?” a well-meaning friend asks from the front seat.
I was driving all of us on our way to a party and, apparently, I had suddenly been quiet.
I skipped to the next song through the buttons conveniently placed on the steering wheel, and then jumped back into the conversation. Whatever feelings the previous song brought up weren’t worth discussing—at least, not now. Still, I question why I find the need to skip it whenever it plays. After all, Tyler the Creator’s “See You Again” is one of my favorite songs, even before I decided to associate it with you.
Sharing a song with someone—whether in the form of sending over a Spotify link, crafting a full-on playlist, playing it for them and listening to it together, or even any moment made better as that certain song plays in the background—I’ve come to realize, is more than just I think you’d like this. It’s more of: I heard this song and thought of you, and from here on out every time I hear this song I will think of you.
And that’s the worst part: every time I hear this song I will think of you.
That remains true regardless of how it all ended and the fact that we’re no longer even speaking. It remains true even when you couldn’t even afford me the respect of keeping a song we shared together sacred by not sharing it with someone else. It remains true, and because of that the song will leave a bad taste in my mouth whenever it plays. And that’s a shame because I love that song.
There are a handful of songs I wish I could stop associating with some people, songs I regret sharing, songs I wish I kept for myself until I was sure I found someone who that song could be dedicated to forever, so as to avoid the song being defiled. In true Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fashion, I wish I could go back and erase the associations of great songs with people that had no intentions of staying, but then I learned that there’s no wisdom in that. In doing so, I would remove so much of the value of the song in itself, the amount of value it wouldn’t have if it had not been shared.
Forgetting what “Truly Madly Deeply” means to us would mean forgetting that it was the song we danced to in your kitchen on the night of our first date. Wishing I could say Beyoncé’s “XO” didn’t mean anything to me is the same as forgetting the sound of your voice singing it from your shower, which still gives me butterflies whenever I remember it. Removing my attachment to LANY’s “ILYSB” is pretending that time we started singing along to it as if we were a lovestruck duo performing in front of a sold-out audience when it played in the dressing rooms of ZARA never happened, and a part of me will always love that it happened.
It’s a bittersweet feeling when you realize just how much songs would never be the same once you make the bold choice to share them with someone. It’s scary, even, to see an innocent song turn into something so powerful as a memory when they’re associated with a moment. But these feelings beg the question: what then would be the use of all these songs if they weren’t made to be shared with people and anchored to moments? They would become songs that elicit no additional feeling whatsoever; they would be so fleeting, forgettable, of not as much value.
If there are songs that remind you of a person because you made the bold choice to share it with them, be thankful. You have made a song better, more meaningful, by doing this—which not everyone has the privilege of saying. These songs will serve as doorways to memories, in the event you would want to revisit them. But until such a point comes when you are ready to revisit them and say, “This was great, but I don’t want this anymore,” go ahead and skip these songs.